Japanese Tea Ceremony in Nice

I’ll admit, this is cheating a bit. I’ve never been to Japan, but the other day I went to a matcha tea ceremony.

The Musee des Arts Asiatiques here in Nice, France offers this mini ceremony three Sundays a month to give visitors a bit of an initiation to the tea ceremony. Of course, it is not the same thing as it would be in Japan, but this short demonstration left me wanting more.

DSC_2441Our guide, let’s caller her the Tea Master, explained first and foremost that a traditional matcha green tea ceremony in Japan would last up to four hours. (The museum’s lasts about 30 to 40.) She had attended one of the traditional schools in her homeland to become a veritable expert in preparing and serving green tea. During her short introduction to green tea, she explained that during a tea ceremony, different teas are served. Normally, the first would be a super-premium quality matcha made into a thick drink. After, lower qualities of the delicious green powder are used to make more watery drinks. Basically, during the ceremony, the Tea Master does not stop preparing tea until the clients tell him or her to stop.

At this point, I’d say everyone in the world knows that green tea has incredible benefits for your health. What I found most interesting were the relaxing aspects of the ceremony. Every movement was slow and precise, from her slowly turning the tea bowls to offer to the clients to her pouring the water and whisking the tea.

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Of course, no demonstration about matcha would be complete without a taste test. First, our host served us a tiny biscuit made predominately of sugar. It wasn’t super, but just a sweet something to make the coming tea taste a bit sweeter, since no sugar is added to traditionally made green tea. Next, the star, matcha. Our lovely Tea Master brought us small bowls filled with a minimal amount of frothy green tea. (Think the same quantity as a watery expresso.) The tea was bitter, and had a very earthy, herbal taste. It was definitely something I enjoy drinking for the health benefits, but the taste just doesn’t bowl me over.

I would love to know if anyone out there has a real Japanese Matcha tea ceremony experience! If you are interested in seeing one in Nice, France, it is ten euro and more info can be found here! And of course, you can always buy matcha both to drink and to make lots of yummy snacks and ice creams!

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